Gamification is a word we are starting to hear a lot about.
What is Gamification? In essence gamification is turning something, a process or experience into a game. A game where the ‘player’ can earn points or status.
The desire to play games is inherent in many people, and the growth of social media is testimony to this. For it is a rare discussion about social media when comparisons between the number of friends, followers or likes a person has is not central to the intended outcome.
We all like games. To the point that my daughter who is learning to drive hates it when I drive at 31 in a 30 zone and get a sad face rather than a smiley :) on the road side speeding signs. She gets a feel good feeling from getting the smiley face. Much like children like getting gold stars at school. But now this is much wider than school. Its entering the world of business.
Magic “gold stars”
Some years ago I was involved in developing the governing committee of a large not for profit. This was an organisation going from just £1m turnover to many £m over night. It needed to be more strategic. My role initially was to carry out an organisational diagnostic. This meant having all of the managers and committee complete some questionnaires. I was asked by one member if they would get a “gold star” for completing it. I said I would when I returned. Unfortunately I forgot, but on the way to the next meeting I went into a confectionery shop & bought each of them a packet of chocolate stars. They were overjoyed. It was the simple rewards that often have the biggest impact.
If we want to engage our people, we need to find new ways of engaging a generation bought up on game experiences. From pokemon & collecting characters and items through to Facebook. Gamification is all around us.
Human resources and business leaders are lagging behind the rest of the world. We need to play catch up. It won’t be long before many businesses have a ‘head of gamification’ role to manage these important people strategies.
The challenge is to harness gamification, but without it appearing trite or irrelevant.
In gamification Points make prizes
Integration of attendance, performance, collaboration and innovation need to be key factors on the point scoring board. The real challenge is identifying rewards that are aligned to the company values and culture.
An even bigger challenge will be the not-for-profit AZ and charity sectors. For once business starts this, there is no way they can opt out. The simple reality is the volunteers and employees will expect such a system. May be more so than the private sector, as often salaries are lower, so a greater Sence of contribution will be one of the key satisfaction drivers.
Why use gameification?
It’s all about two factors critical to any successful and sustainable business,
- Change management
- Employee engagement
As a business or organisational development professional, when we introduce change, we need to make it change what and how people do things, and we need that change to stick. Equally we need people to be both engaged with the work and with the organisation.
Here is where gameification strategies and methods can help us. There is a psychology of games, people like to get involved and they like to win, or any least show they can do well. Games and the associated “rewards” can help here.
Health warning – get the game wrong and people wont play, worse, they can lose faith in the change team or the organisation as a whole.
Games can be used in ” business as usual” as well as under change. Indeed many would argue that if you introduce games before change, you can use changes in the rewards to accelerate the change implementation. Gamification works on the principle what gets measured gets done. Its a way of measuring without micro managing or standing over people. Game strategy can work well with remote workers too.
It is believed that the introduction of games course help increase employee retention. As leaving the organisation would also mean leaving the game.
One site for small businesses experienced this recently. Ecademy.com was a game based networking site. It was based around activity and content. When the new owners of the site changed its name to sunzu.com, they kept the content, but dropped the game factors. Activity my members fell off a cliff over night. Even some months later it seems that the new owner is either not bothered or not aware. The upshot for him is the losses of many fee paying customers.
When done right this could be a powerful tool for any business.
Keep it simple
The key lesson is keep the “game” simple, make it easy for people to get involved, this will attract interactions and reduce the risk of productivity dropoff due to distracting activities.
Gamification Going forward
How might you embrace games in your “business as usual” or change programme?
Gamification in business is about engagement, rewards and retention as well as skills development